How to Care for Dogs Post-Surgery

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    Knowing how to care for your pet correctly post-surgery is extremely important. With the correct care, you can get your dog back to normal as quickly as possible, without complications. Here are some steps to be sure your dog recovers quickly and correctly.

    beagle wrapped in a body bandage as they recover from surgery

    Know the Signs of Pain

    Dogs present signs of pain differently but it is imperative to know the common signs, especially during their surgery recovery as to know if their vet should be notified. Here are some common signs:

    • Not eating/drinking
    • Panting/Shaking/Trembling
    • Decreased activity or not wanting to walk
    • Flinching/increased body tension when the surgical site is touched
    • If your pet does not want to lay down on the incision or if they tried to and then immediately changed to a different position
    • If your pet is usually vocal and is acting more subdued, this can indicate pain or discomfort
    • On the other hand, if your pet usually is quiet and is vocalizing more, this can also be a sign
    • Reduced interaction with other pets and owners
    • Inappropriate eliminations (urinating in the house)
    • Aggression towards other animals or humans
    • Abnormal posture, restlessness, and or hiding can also be signs of pain

     If you notice any of these signs, try giving the prescribed pain medication from your veterinarian’s pain medication; contact your veterinarian if these behaviors continue. 

    Follow Your Veterinarians Post-Op Instructions

    golden retriever at the vet with owner and female vet

    Surgery can be stressful for pet parents and pets alike but knowing how to look after your dog following surgery is essential for helping your animal get back to their everyday life. No matter which surgery your dog has, your veterinarian or surgeon will provide you with clear instructions on how to care for your pet following the procedure. There may be precise and vital instructions relating to the type of surgery your pet has had, so make sure you have any questions if you do not fully understand.

    Managing Your Pet’s Pain After Surgery 

    After your dog’s operation, your veterinarian will explain the medications prescribed. They will explain the type of medication, the dose required, how often to give the medicines, and how to administer them. It is important that you adhere to your vet’s instructions. These medications will prevent any unnecessary pain and will support healing. Remember, your veterinary team wants to help you to help your dog. Managing your dog’s pain is very important to them.

    Antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent infection, and pain medication to relieve post-op discomfort are the most commonly prescribed medications. If your pup is anxious or high-strung, your vet may also prescribe a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help keep them calm while recovering.

    Home remedies aren’t recommended. And never disregard a medication your veterinarian has prescribed to your dog for one you read about online. Speak if your vet first if there is a remedy that you would like to try. You want to make sure the ingredients are safe for pets. Never give human medications to your pet. Many drugs that can help humans are toxic to dogs.

    Giving your pup a probiotic during the recovery and after is a great idea. Giving a high-quality probiotic once or twice daily for two weeks will help repair the damage done by antibiotics, anesthesia, and other drugs. You can discuss brands you are looking into with your vet and see if they have any recommendations. 

    Keeping Your Dog Comfortable When They Get Home

     

    The majority of surgical procedures require the use of a general anesthetic. General anesthetic knocks your dog out and prevents them from feeling any pain during the procedure. But it can take a while for the effects of anesthetic to wear off. They may leave your dog feeling a little sleepy or shaky on their feet. These side effects are typical and, with rest, should disappear very quickly. 

    The First Night Home

    It is crucial to keep your dog comfortable after surgery. You will want to provide them with a comfortable and quiet place to rest. This should be away from children, other pets, main living areas, and company. If curling up on a small bed to sleep is typical for your dog, you may want to purchase a larger, orthopedic bed. This will help them from pulling at the incision when trying to curl in a tight space. Allowing room to stretch out will ensure there’s no extra pressure on any bandaged or sensitive parts of their body. This may help them feel better and may even help them recover more quickly.

    dog wearing soft cone recovering from surgery

    Restricting Your Pet’s Movement

    Regardless of why your dog had surgery, limiting your dog’s activities and movement for some time has been recommended. Sudden jumping movements can interfere with the healing process and may even cause the incision to reopen. Most dogs cope well with being kept indoors for a few days (with only essential trips outside for potty breaks). A more difficult task often prevents your dog from jumping up on furniture they love to sleep on or climbing stairs. Stopping these behaviors for a few days may require confining your dog to a safe and comfortable room when you cannot supervise them.

    Helping Your Dog When Cage-Rest is Required

    Orthopedic surgeries often require strictly limiting your dog’s movements for a good recovery. If crate rest for your dog is recommended following surgery, there are ways to help your dog adjust to this strict confinement. The crate should be large enough to allow your dog to stand up and turn around without hitting the sides or top. 

    Caring for Your Pet’s Incision Site

    Depending on the surgery, your vet may use different stitches or staples to close the incision site. Some stitches need to be removed in 10-14 days, where others will discover themselves. It can be challenging to prevent your dog from chewing or scratching at bandages or an incision. This is why “The Cone of Shame,” as so many people call it, is important for your pup to wear. Luckily the Cone of Shame has advanced. You can now find them in a wide variety of materials. E-collars usually come in hard plastic or soft versions.

    Dogs can often adjust to wearing a cone within a couple of hours if you give them the chance to. Most owners have given in and removed the cone after being home for a few minutes. This helps no one. If your dog is genuinely struggling to wear a cone and you have tried other versions, speak with your vet. Post-surgery jumpsuits (medical pet-shirts) may be an option for your dog or donut collars.

    Bandage Care

    Keeping your dog’s bandages dry at all times is another key element to proper recovery. Dry bandages will help the incision heal faster. When your dog goes outside, make sure that the bandages are covered with a plastic bag or cling wrap to protect them from the damp grass. Remove the covering as soon as they come back inside. Leaving the over on the bandage could cause sweat to collect under the bandage and lead to an infection, which can be very painful.

    It is important not to skip any follow-up appointments. Bandages are only meant to stay on for so long. Leaving a bandage on for an extended period of time could lead to infection, sores, swelling, or the bandages area might not grow the way it is intended to. This all could lead not only to short turn pain but longer-term pain as well. It is also important to allow the professionals to handle bandage changes.

    Keeping Your Dog Happy During Recovery

    Dogs don’t understand when they are in recovery. They are more likely to become frustrated with the reduced activity. The itchiness of their incision site or just the overall lack of stimulation could cause any of us to go a little crazy. Therefore, it is important to give your pet mental stimulation. 

    You can amuse your dog with a rotating selection of puzzle games that won’t call for stretching or jumping. Heavy chew toys or squeaky playthings can be entertaining. Limiting the number of toys, you offer your dog to one or two items at a time and switch to a different toy regularly will help prevent boredom.

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